Daily Archives: March 26, 2012

The Greening of Panama

I’ve written quite a bit, with videos, about the rainy season in Panama. The “dry” season in Panama runs roughly from the end of November through April and does not lend itself to good video opportunities. Sort of on a par with taking an action picture of a rock.

It’s hard to say if this has been a typical dry season or not since I haven’t lived here long enough to have developed a meteorological memory bank. The river that runs past the house has been little more than a winding rock pile for months.

We’ve been  several months without a drop of rain. Full-blown drought conditions. Diary farmers in the district of Macaracas are experiencing serious difficulties. This dry season has resulted in a 25% decline in production. The most critical areas are the districts of El Cedro and Corozal, where 80% of surface water sources have dried up and the grass is low. Serious, large-scale brush fires have been reported throughout the country as a result of the tinder-dry conditions.

When I’d leave the house to go catch a bus into David I’d crunch across the straw-colored front yard. Here and there were tiny tufts of green but easily 90% was as dry as dust. But the yards around here aren’t sodded plots. They’re covered by indigenous plant life. Stuff that has survived these conditions for millennia. So not everything is brown.

The trees have remained green, but look at the ground beneath them. (Sorry, the color of the pictures is horrible. I think I damaged my still camera when I was documenting the final sunrises in Potrerillos Arriba and I’m now using my video camera’s still photo mode.)

April is fast approaching and the weather pattern here in Chiriquí Province has been changing. It started about a month ago. I woke up one morning to find it raining quite hard and it continued into the early afternoon. This was unusual because during the rainy season the wet stuff generally comes in the middle of the afternoon. It’s rare to find it raining in the mornings. But that was just a tease. We didn’t get any more rain for days afterwards. Clouds would build up in the afternoon and it looked like it was about to rain but nothing came of it. Then it started last Thursday and we’ve had rain every afternoon since then. Right now it’s quite gloomy and I can hear thunder from all points of the compass.

The newly arrived rains haven’t changed the river yet as you can see from the photo above. The ground’s too dry for that. La tierra is thirsty and drinking up the rain as it falls. In a couple of months, when the ground is thouroughly saturated it will run off and the rivers will rise again.

The rain, though, has had a profound effect on the grasses. With just a couple of successive days of rain green patches are springing up where it had been brown.

There are four treelings? Treelets? Saplings? in the back yard. I watered them nearly every day, but one seems to have succumbed.

I have no idea what kind of a tree it is supposed to be. The leaves seem to be that of a mango. But the mangoes in the neighborhood are thriving and loaded with an abundance of green fruits now. I’ve not given up hope. The leaves, while they are a dreadful brown, have remained supple and pliant. Hopefully it’s simply resting and not like this…

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